Almost three weeks after being held by Puerto Rican authorities with over US$600,000 cash hidden in his jet,
a Guyanese businessman/pilot has apparently reached an agreement to have his property seized.
According to courts documents filed yesterday, an “Agreement to Forfeit Property” has been presented to the court in Puerto Rico. However, under court orders based on an application by Khamraj ‘Kem’ Lall, the agreement cannot be made public.
On November 22, Lall was arrested after a jet he owns stopped for fuel at the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport, Puerto Rico.
According to Special Agent DaRika Davis, who is attached to Homeland Security Investigations of the United States Homeland Security, Lall and two other individuals arrived at the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport on a private aircraft bearing tail number N822QL.
Lall was the co-pilot, while the other two individuals were his father and the pilot of the aircraft. They were en route to Guyana. The officers informed them that an outbound inspection of the aircraft was necessary. Lall and his father declared US$5000, while the pilot US$60.
During the search, the agents unearthed some maintenance discrepancies and grounded the aircraft until the issues could be resolved.
The following morning, the issues were resolved, and Lall informed the US Customs Agents so that they could resume their outbound inspection of the aircraft. Employing the use of a sniffer dog, the US agents were alerted to a bundle of currency wrapped in plastic bags and a blanket was found under the exit row seat.
When approached, the Guyanese businessman, who reportedly owns Kaylee’s Service Station at Coverden on the East Bank of Demerara, voluntarily stated that the money found belonged to him, and that it was approximately US$150,000. His explanation was that the money was proceeds from his business, and which he had forgotten was there. The agents did not buy his explanation.
But when the agents continued their search, they stumbled upon a black suitcase inside a compartment next to the engines. The suitcase was found to contain several black garbage bags containing bundles of currency totaling approximately US$470,000.
Lall also accepted responsibility and ownership of the other monies found. He informed the agents that his father and the aircraft’s pilot had nothing to do with the cash, and that all the money belonged to him.
This newspaper was informed that both the US$620,000 cash and the small jet plane have been seized.
The Guyanese businessman and aircraft pilot migrated to the United States of America 30 years ago. He obtained a bachelors degree in Technology and Engineering and later obtained his pilot licence. In 1992, Lall started his own business “K.L.X Logistics Inc” located at 13 Edward Hart Drive, Jersey City which offered trucking and warehouse services, and was operational from 1995 to 2010.
In 2007, he purchased a gas station now known as the Kaylee’s Service Station located at Coverden, East Bank Demerara, as part of his investment plans in Guyana and later expanded his venture when he introduced Quin’s Special Events & Services, comprising two limousines.
Through his lawyer, Lall was successfully granted a request to restrict access by the public to several documents to be used in his court matter.
In his petition filed in the Puerto Rico, US District Court, Lall claimed that he was “filing the motion with the requested level of restriction because it is necessary to protect the confidentiality of the information detailed in the document and exhibits.”
He requested certain documents be accepted by the Court for filing with the level of restriction of “Selected Parties.” He wanted the restricted parties limited to the Attorney filing the document, the United States, Probation Office and the Court.
In seeking to enforce his position that the documents not be made accessible to the public, Lall through his attorney said, “The protection of the information in the motion outweighs the presumption of public access.”
He was granted US$100,000 bail.
Last week, the Puerto Rican court ordered the jet owner to surrender all his pilot licences. He was restricted to travel between New Jersey in the United States and Puerto Rico only for purposes pertaining to his court hearing.
The pilot was also allowed to continue working as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of his aviation company, but only in an administrative capacity, and the duties must be performed from his residence.
Local aviation authorities have confirmed that Lall’s local operation is currently on pause given his court matter. They continue to say that all the pilot’s local operations were above board and all his international papers were in order.
News surfaced that Lall has a private hangar at Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) and it was stated further that Lall and his staff had special privileges at CJIA, an allegation that Government and aviation officials have strongly denied.
The Alliance for Change (AFC) said that in its own investigations, it too became aware of unorthodox movements afforded to the private company’s operations. President Donald Ramotar had travelled on at least three occasions onboard Lall’s aircraft. The exact cost of the flights is still unclear.
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